The May Hymn of the Month: Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia LSB 466
Often, the criticism of our hymnody and what gets sung in congregations that use the hymnal is: it’s all “old” music. Well my friends, our hymn of the month for May is an example of a “new” hymn (one of many!) in the Lutheran Service Book. Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia is an English translation from the Swahili Mufrahini, haleluya. The hymn was written by Bernard Kyamanywa, a Tanzanian pastor, in 1968. It is written in a very “African” style, with an interplay between storyteller and congregational refrain. The story is presented in simple style, with the response joyfully responding to each stanza.
A hymn such as this one exudes the joy in the resurrection, and in the repetition, underscores the “endlessness” of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and defeat of death. The last part of the final stanza captures this perfectly: Jesus is living! Let us all sing; He reigns triumphant, heavenly king. As we sing this joyful and delightful hymn in the coming month, reflect on the endlessness of Christ’s work for you!
Below is a link to a congregational choir singing this hymn:
Why Do We Sing Easter Hymns into June?
The Easter season lasts 50 days, or the number of days in between the Resurrection and Pentecost. So, for that time, it is highly appropriate to sing Easter hymns Sunday after Sunday. This may feel strange to some, especially when Easter is later (as is the case this year) and we are found singing an Easter hymn on June 2nd! The issue is even underscored by the “highlight” of Easter worship, where the sanctuary is full, and everyone is dressed up and joyful. After a few weeks, we put Easter in our rearview mirrors and move on to other things.
But this question actually gets into an area of worship in general. Why even Sundays? Aren’t we free to worship any day we want? Well, yes…and no. According to Martin Luther’s Large Catechism, we are not bound to worship only on Sunday, because everyday is a day for worship. Every day is a Sabbath Day to keep holy to the Lord!
Therefore, in Christian freedom, we can (and should) worship potentially every day and sing our praises. However, since the very first days of the Church (1st century), the practice of gathering together to worship was moved from Saturdays (the seventh day) to Sundays (the first day). Why? Because every Sunday is a “little” Easter! Sunday, the eight day, is the new day of creation. Sunday is the day on which the Lord was raised from the dead. To recognize this fact and confess it, the Church has always worshiped on Sundays.
So, why do we sing Easter hymns into June some years? More than just following a liturgical calendar, we are celebrating the Lord’s resurrection every single Sunday. It is the first day of the new creation and the first day of the work week. Instead on ending the week with worship, we begin (and end!) with it. Easter hymns are sung, and can be sung, on days beyond the Easter season. They can be sung throughout the calendar, and even especially during funerals! In Christ, all things have changed and been reoriented to center on Him.
From the Pastor
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
The Ascension of Our Lord
On Thursday May 30th, we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord. The Ascension occurred forty days after Jesus rose from the dead as we read in Acts 1. We will have a very special service this year at 5:30, in which we focus on this event and receive the Lord’s Supper. However, instead of making the case for the importance of Ascension and why you should be here…I am imploring you, ask your pastor. In other words, over the course of May, ask Pastor Heaton, “Why is Ascension important? What does it mean? What does it mean for me?” Take a few moments, and talk to your pastor and give him the opportunity to convince you!